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Hudson's MRI shows ligament damage

Hudson's MRI shows ligament damage

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ATLANTA -- Braves general manager Frank Wren would like to find the individual who cursed the projected starting rotation that he carried into this season. Following the same path previously traveled by John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Mike Hampton, Tim Hudson now potentially has a serious injury that could sideline him for an extended period.

An MRI exam performed in Atlanta on Monday afternoon showed that the ligament in Hudson's right elbow is damaged. He'll visit Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham later this week to determine the significance of his injury.

"The initial findings from the MRI are that there is some injury to his elbow," Wren said. "Some of it appears to be new. Other parts of it appear to be an older injury."

When asked if the injury was considered serious, Wren indicated the team would wait for Andrews' evaluation before making any sort of characterization. But he did say that the MRI showed more than just inflammation.

"I don't want to characterize anything, other than there is an injury to his elbow," Wren said. "We'll wait for the results and hope for the best."

For now, the Braves can only hope that Andrews won't prescribe Hudson to undergo Tommy John ligament transplant surgery.

"That's the obvious procedure that's going to fix any kind of ligament damage," Hudson said. "I don't know how severe it is. But I know it's significant enough to go get some second opinions."

It's safe to say the damage is much more severe than Hudson expected. Although he admitted he wasn't able to complete a bullpen session in Philadelphia on Sunday, he had volunteered to pitch on regular rest when the Braves were in search of a starter for Monday night's game against the Cardinals.

"I was floored," said Hudson, who had been placed on the disabled list earlier on Monday. "I thought they were almost joking with me at first."

When Hudson was forced to leave last Wednesday's start at Dolphin Stadium after throwing just 68 pitches, he didn't seem too concerned about the ailment. He'd just surrendered three hits over six scoreless innings and assumed that the discomfort was a strained forearm muscle that came as a result of throwing more split-finger fastballs than usual.

"I feel fine," Hudson said. "That's what is kind of frustrating for me. Nothing really hurts. I don't know if it's an old injury that just now kind of started to surface or what."

Since joining the Braves before the start of the 2005 season, Hudson has been successful and more inconsistent than he was during his younger days with the A's. During his 121 starts with Atlanta, he has gone 54-38 with a 3.78 ERA.

During his 183 career starts with the A's, he was 92-39 with a 3.30 ERA. These differences at least present the possibility that the 33-year-old right-hander hasn't been at full strength over the past couple of seasons.

"I'm starting to wonder if it's been like this for three or four years now and they just figured it out," Hudson said. "I don't know if it's just something that happened overnight when I pitched, or an old injury that I just kind of dealt with."

Obviously, this is yet another injury that devastates the Braves rotation. Providing the greatest irony is the fact that the injury-plagued Mike Hampton, who made his first start in nearly three years on Saturday, now stands as the only healthy veteran in the starting rotation.

Jair Jurrjens is the only member of the original starting rotation who hasn't been lost for an extended period because of injury. But even he was forced to miss a start after tripping down the clubhouse steps while exiting Wrigley Field on June 10.

Smoltz was lost to season-ending shoulder surgery in April and Glavine has been out since June 10 with a slightly torn flexor tendon in his left elbow.

"We've had more than our share [of injuries]," Wren said. "That's for sure. You could throw a yellow flag for piling on."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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